Charles Hugh Smith is both a novelist and an economic commentator – two occupations that could explain why he has come up with a unique description of today’s college graduates.

Debt serfdom all starts with the young adult who is determined to get up in life. This young adult does this by going to college, but finds it difficult to finance an education at this point in time.

This is where private student loans come in.

Students that are desperate for money to pay for a college education will find loans to be an indispensable financial tool. This goes hand-in-hand with the belief that a college degree will automatically land them in a high-paying job – one that pays enough money to pay for both the loan and a comfortable standard of life. So students saddle themselves with debt. Some even manage to hit six-figure student loans on top of credit card debt.

This is where their lives as debt-serfs begin.

Student loans can’t be absolved by bankruptcy, the loan will around for 20-odd years and the interest rates will keep students chained down to the ground. They need to grab the first job opportunity they can get because they need money to pay off the loan, but this prevents many students from securing higher-paying jobs. So the debt sticks with them for years on end while they are forced to work just to pay off the interest – never mind the debt.

And there you have it: a debt serf.

What is most troubling, though, is that the next generation of American citizens is graduating from their colleges as a generation of debt serfs. We are saddling the future leaders and workers of our country with debt that keeps them pinned down. We have to find some way to deal with exploitative institutions that choke cash from their students while providing these same students with sub-par education. Graduation should guarantee job placement, but many schools are exaggerating statistics to mislead individuals just to increase the enrollment rate

Education is something that we have to pay for, yes, but we should not have to pay up with our future in exchange for a college degree. It also helps that we can expect a decent career path, not a bait-and-switch education.

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